It started last week and only lasted a few days. The typical Minnesota nights were no longer filled with warm, muggy air. Instead, they were replaced with temperatures in the mid 50’s. Those days have passed and we’ve returned to the humidity that I have come to expect from the Minnesota summers. I had just made a float down the Namekogen River in northern Wisconsin and it feels like the Fourth of July was just yesterday. The summer just reached the half waypoint, I should be focused on fishing but my mind is elsewhere. The gifted cool summer nights were reminiscent of the fall days to come. All it took was a few cool nights to set off the itch.

Getting the itch isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I’ve always enjoyed the youthful sensation. Much like the reaction when a little kid finds out they get to go to Disneyland, I feel like all my dreams are coming true. The ironic part for outdoorsmen who get itch is that it means more work. Many people get excited to be able to relax, others push it into high gear. This means that my available time will be allocated towards activities to get me ready for hunting season. I will spend a lot more time looking at maps and plotting the course for the upcoming season. Long trips with friends will be scheduled and vacation time will be saved so it can be spent in the marsh. The anticipation that opening day is getting closer is something that can be best described as magical. I get to wake up early to pursue the adventures that others would rather not. I can enjoy a cup of coffee and a sunrise knowing that there are poor saps out there that’d rather spend their time sleeping in or waste away a day being hung-over. Hunting is work but the rewards are beyond a price tag.

Just the thought of hearing the first honk on early season opener morning is enough to give me chills. I know that the nervous feeling will flood my body as the birds gently glide into my spread. After the first shots are fired the smell of gunpowder fills the cool morning air, birds will fall and Dalton will make a few retrieves. As he brings them back I’ll relinquish the hard-ass disposition that was needed for summer training. I’ll smile as I see him and I in our domain, doing what we are supposed to do, together. He’ll shake water off and the majority of it will end up on me; a christening in murky water, for a new season is upon us. He’ll forget about the birds that were shot and be back to looking towards the sky, waiting for his next opportunity.

As for now, I’ll just have to get things prepared. I’ll open up the windows at night and wait for the cool northern breeze to return.